“Please make sure that you don’t raise the ‘skirt rule’ controversy in front of Judy,” is the warning issued before talking to Judy Hashman, the 17-time All England champion. But even if you try to comply, the living legend brings up the issue herself.
“Skirts, it’s the most frivolous and silly thing I have ever heard,” she said. “Would you find a sweaty and tired player glamorous? If yes, then might as well tell men to play bare-chested! You need to popularise the sport and not glamorise it.”
It’s not just the skirts that invite her ire. Hashman feels that a lot has changed in the sport but not for the better. “The equipment has improved but the sport has deteriorated. A lot of shots have vanished from the sport. I vividly remember how I feared the Asians only because of the way they moved their wrist so I would try and keep them away from the net. The Indians, in particular were magnificent with their wrist shots. But now, it’s become a rarity.”
One wonders if it had to do anything with players’ training, “Don’t even get me started,” smiles Hashman. “I never practiced more than three hours a day. These days players train for seven hours! It’s criminal. Practice, but please have a life.”
Before leaving the Sirifort arena, the champion turns around and asks, “I heard this stadium had not been in use since the Games last year. It’s a state-of-the-art stadium. Please make the most of it if you want to produce quality shuttlers.”